Cape Town - New Zealand extended their advantage over England at the top of the World Rugby rankings to 6.81 points after a stunning 42-8 win against Australia - their 12th victory on the bounce in all competitions - in Sydney on Saturday.
According to the World Rugby website, the All Blacks gained two tenths of a rating point to take their overall tally to 96.30 with England second with 89.49 points. Australia remain fourth despite the heavy defeat.
Steve Hansen’s side scored four tries in a thoroughly one-sided first half that saw the Wallabies lose three centres to injury - Matt Giteau, Rob Horne and Matt Toomua - and added two more after the break. Make-shift wing Nick Phipps grabbed a late consolation for the Wallabies, who had enjoyed a short-lived lead early on after Bernard Foley’s penalty.
Ryan Crotty, Beauden Barrett, Jerome Kaino and Waisake Naholo scored tries as the world champions led 32-3 at half-time. Dane Coles added a fifth in the second half before Julian Savea, on as a replacement for Naholo, got in on the act to become only the fifth All Black to score 40 Test tries.
The Rugby World Cup 2015 finalists meet again at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday (09:35), where the All Blacks will have the chance to secure the Bledisloe Cup for a 14th straight year.
South Africa, meanwhile, came back from 10 points down with 10 minutes to go to get their Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start against Argentina.
Warren Whiteley spared the Springboks’ blushes with a 78th-minute try but they will be hoping for a much improved performance for the return fixture in Salta this weekend.
After conceding the first try, Argentina led 13-10 at the break thanks to Matias Orlando’s try and eight points from the boot of Nicolas Sanchez.
Elton Jantjies' penalty 15 minutes into the second half levelled the scores at 13-13 but Sanchez, passing 400 Test points in the process, restored the visitor's lead with a quarter of an hour to play with his third penalty.
Santiago Cordero set the alarm bells ringing among the 27 000-strong crowd in Nelspruit when he finished off a break from the impressive Manuel Montero to put Los Pumas 23-13 up. But with man-of-the-match Faf de Klerk growing increasingly influential and Jantjes’ finding his goal-kicking boots, South Africa rallied to snatch an unconvincing victory with converted tries for fullback Johan Goosen and Whiteley.
The Springboks remain in third place in the rankings after a marginal gain of nine hundredths with Argentina unchanged in ninth.
Top 15 in the latest World Rugby rankings:1. New Zealand 96.30
2. England 89.49
3. South Africa 86.41
4. Australia 84.23
5. Wales 82.49
6. Ireland 81.67
7. France 80.75
8. Scotland 80.44
9. Argentina 80.12
10. Fiji 75.49
11. Georgia 75.23
12. Japan 74.95
13. Italy 72.23
14. Samoa 71.37
15. Tonga 69.47